Every industry has been impacted in some way by the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19, and this has thrown many marketers for a loop when it comes to publishing their upcoming content.
Furthermore, with economies around the world in a substantial downturn and uncertainty being the name of the game, 2020 is going to be a challenging year when it comes to marketing your business unless you pivot your content writing strategy immediately.
Now more than ever before, marketers need to stay on top of the latest data and adjust what they are writing in order to stay relevant to an audience that is rapidly changing.
In order to get your site noticed by people under today’s abnormal circumstances, your content will need to be on-topic, continue to build awareness about your brand, and be relatable to what people are experiencing around the world right now – all in one take.
Think of travel brands as one example. There’s no point in creating content about fabulous getaway destinations until travel is unrestricted and allowed to continue as normal again. These brands could, however, cover how travel destinations have been affected by the outbreak and their plans to address it, as a way to marry their industry content with content surrounding the COVID-19 crisis.
The silver lining of this troubling situation is that more people are spending time on the internet than before due to shelter-at-home requirements that are in place throughout many countries, and this equals opportunities for renewed content marketing efforts.
Remember that the decisions made with your content now could have an effect far into the future, and that the tone of your content needs to be informed and emphatic.
Here are the top 4 areas to focus on when content writing during COVID-19 to help your brand stay relevant:
Take Note of the Reality
The coronavirus outbreak has led consumers to keep a much tighter hold on their purse strings with the hopes that there will be more certainty soon, but there is no way to ascertain when exactly that will be. Needless to say, consumer behaviour is changing, and changing fast. It’s up to content creators to not only catch up but to get ahead of the curve too.
Early estimates have shown that global, organic traffic and conversions have decreased for the majority of industries, with the only exceptions being sites based around news or finance, two high-demand result categories on search engines ever since the virus came to global attention.
This means that continuing with the same content writing strategy as before may not be a viable option anymore, and unless you adapt your content plan now it will cost you search traffic in a time when numbers are already decreased.
Your existing content writing strategy should be adjusted to acknowledge the seriousness of what the world is facing and reflect the new questions that people have in a world affected by COVID-19.
The key to this is to think about your industry in the context of the coronavirus, but without putting out something generic and identical to all the other messages out there. No easy feat to say the least! The goal is to try and use your content to bring attention to your brand in a transparent and real way that will speak to your audience, and address real questions they might have about your brand’s future.
This is the time to focus on crafting a diverse SEO content plan that will be suitable for multiple platforms over both the short and long-term. Ideally, your updated plan will cover creating content that is suitable for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak (meaning relevant for a set amount of time only), as well as optimizing existing, evergreen content that will improve your search engine rankings when the virus is long gone.
Keep Up With Keyword Trends
Since the start of the outbreak, there has been a big shift in prominent and top-performing keywords online, making the use of Google Trends essential for content writing over the next few months. Google Trends collects data in real-time and helps you create relevant content that is more likely to earn search traffic from the get-go, while other keyword trackers may only be updated on a monthly basis and not offer results that are as valuable in the moment.
All industries across the world have been affected by COVID-19 in some way, but the most significant change by far has been in workforces going completely remote and transitioning to working from home full-time.
This move to virtual workspaces, in many cases an overnight decision, has caused a huge shake-up that represents an opportunity for you to create targeted content. Some of the most recent keyword modifiers that have gained huge traction on keyword aggregators include “at-home”, “remote” and other related phrases that reflect the public’s current situation. You should consider how you could add these modifiers to your site, or create content around them.
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Creating content that is based on these emerging trends will lead to an increase in site visitors and a higher overall conversion rate, even during the current downtrend of traffic, and give you new opportunities to connect with your audience.
Another predictive tool that is standing out right now besides Google Trends is Exploding Topics. Exploding Topics aggregates data from various online sources, including Google Trends, but takes it a little further by formulating topics that could trend soon and help you track changes in content categories over time. If you can identify these trends early on, you’ll be able to keep your upcoming content unique, particularly when it comes to COVID-19 messaging which has quickly become saturated online.
The idea is to use the tools listed to narrow down content ideas that will appeal to your audience, gain some more traffic over the short-term if possible and that you can get published quickly.
Another common content strategy that has really come to the fore in the context of COVID-19 is email marketing. Brands are turning to sharing useful resources directly with consumers, and with good reason: email marketing is a low cost, high ROI way to communicate with your audience and reshare existing content that could be valuable to readers.
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Improve Existing Content
Updating older content is a great way to increase search engine rankings, and now is as good a time as any to pursue this option as the second, long-term part of your updated content writing plan. This is because some search engines will offer better rankings to “fresh” content, and by improving the keyword usage in old content you can reintroduce it to these engines as “new” in order to benefit from higher search engine rankings.
If you do some research, you’ll find that the majority of top search results on Google for any given term will have been published in the last year or two. Reintroducing your older content as new enables you to gain higher click-through-rates and boost your search engine traffic.
The thing to note about this method is that it can be highly effective with very little effort. HubSpot, following this exact strategy, doubled the number of search traffic that they generated from older posts, and they also found that it was where they gained at least 90% of their marketing leads.
Some marketers make use of a tool called MarketMuse to analyze their content libraries and suggest improvements such as linking suggestions and more. This can give you a good foundation for updating your content in the most effective way, and with refreshed content the chances of earning legitimate inbound links are better.
Target Social Media And Video
With people spending both more time in their homes and online, social media usage has increased significantly and you should take note this for your content plan.
For instance, Facebook has reported a 70% increase in users across all their apps for the month of March alone, while Instagram and Twitter reported increases in engagement across their platforms as well.
Creating content to target social platforms is a great way to adapt your marketing strategy over the short-term during COVID-19, and get direct feedback as to what is working and what is not.
Bear in mind that as time goes on, audiences will experience a measure of “COVID-19 fatigue”, and that audiences will prefer to view content that is reassuring or positive. Many brands have decided to try and balance information and entertainment to try and fill that gap.
You could use this time to expand your content to new mediums and test the waters with your audience like creating videos, hosting webinars and more.
In fact, Twitter has published a survey they undertook which highlighted more people turning to video content consumption while spending time online, and live video in particular has picked up a lot of speed since the outbreak started. The average person is expected to spend as much as a 100 minutes viewing videos a day by 2021.
Statistics show that videos are shared on social media nearly 1200% more than image and text posts, and while creating content for this medium may be more time intensive, video makers like Lumen5 can actually transform blog content into videos suitable for social media platforms.
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As an alternative method of content research, you can rely on your social media audience for user-generated topics and content ideas by posting polls and finding out what they really want to know from your brand. Live video streams give you the opportunity to gather these topics directly and put a face to your business.
In the present world climate, you shouldn’t be discouraged if your content is earning lower numbers of traffic and click-through-rates on average. Take solace in the fact that many content creators with budgets both big and small are experiencing the same thing and have the same concerns that you do.
The news isn’t all bad though – people are spending more time online, and if you can focus your content efforts on relating to your audience, you can guarantee the longevity of your content and brand.
These are unprecedented times, and marketers need to keep their content flexible – what is relevant right now may not be next week, and it’s essential to keep up to date with the latest data.
The priority for your content should primarily be on keeping awareness around your brand alive and pivoting address topics that have both short-term and long-term potential to earn search engine traffic and get engagement.